Today I found myself on the roof-tops of Auckland University’s School of Hospitality & Tourism. Invited in by friends who teach the Hospitality and Culinary Arts diplomas and BA’s, we were up and out in the blazing sunshine tasting herbs I never knew existed. They had tubs of Winged Beans (a cool Asian plant with edible leaves, pods, flowers, seeds and roots), Betal Leaf (heart shaped glossy edible leaves that you can use as a wrapper for yummy fillings, not just tobacco!), Cha Om (fern-like feathery fronds, commonly used in South East Asia), Vietnamese Mint (not a mint at all, but fresh and tasty raw or cooked), alongside all the common herbs and some very hot chilies. I had a guided tour of the professional teaching kitchens, the lecture rooms, the fine-dining restaurants where the BA Culinary Arts students cook for paying guests, and saw how they brilliantly they managed all the food waste with effective composting and large worm farms (best fed worms in NZ without a doubt!)
Who does all the washing up I wondered, (and wished I had asked). There is a lot you learn about yourself when facing a mountain of washing up day after day.
Zen master Suzuki Roshi emphasized; “We have to study with our warm heart, not just with our brain”. For many of us, we may have to go looking for our warm heart – it can often be rediscovered down in the basement of our being, rather ignored, whilst we’ve been living on the roof-tops; in our heads. When you’ve located it and re-familiarised yourself with your own goodness (meditation helps here) then we can live, study, work, interact from our true nature. Our core essence. Have you noticed how your warm heart has different motivations and goals than our busy, bossy brains?
Auckland University has seven (SEVEN!!) spiritual / multi-faith chaplains who are available to assist with spiritual and personal development. There is a Zen priest who leads interested students in regular meditation sessions. Wow, what a fantastic education these students are having.
It was a really fun and interesting day, made more so by the friendliness and passion of the lecturers who took care of me. It must be no coincidence that it’s a school of Hospitality as well as a school of Culinary Arts. Thank you, friends, for such a inspiring day.
Baby Herbs photo by Abby